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Judd, Winnie Ruth

(c. 1905-1998.10.23)  "The Trunk Murderess"

Lived in Phoenix

Murdered, tried, imprisoned in Phoenix

The duplex 2929 N. Second Street where the murders occurred is to the right.  A 50's vintage duplex is on the left.

Winnie Ruth Judd was the 26 year old wife of a 56 year old physician. The couple had moved to Phoenix in 1930 hoping that the dry climate would keep Winnie Ruth's tuberculosis in check, and that Dr. Judd could find employment.

Dr. Judd was unable to find work in Phoenix.  In the summer of 1931 he left for Los Angeles where he sought employment in a clinic, leaving Winnie Ruth behind.

Winnie Ruth had developed very close friendship with two young women roommates living nearby. Shortly after the doctor's departure one of the young women returned to her Oregon home to recuperate from an illness.  Winnie Ruth moved in to take her place.

When the roommate returned a few months later, tension developed among the three women.  Winnie Ruth thought it prudent to rent an apartment elsewhere.  The move apparently lessened the tension and the three young women continued to be fast friends.  They frequently socialized and it was not uncommon for Winnie Ruth to spend the night with the roommates.

The lobby of the Grunow Clinic, 926 E McDowell Road, where Winnie worked as a secretary.  Winnie lived in an apartment just south and east of the clinic at 1102 E. Brill Street. Her apartment building has long since been razed and the location is now in the middle of the Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center at 1111 E. McDowell.   7-01.

The roommates were not the only ones sharing a substantial portion of the young bride's time. Even before the doctor left, Winnie Ruth began a torrid affair with Jack Halloran, a prosperous lumber yard owner.  Although married and a father of three, Halloran was a notorious playboy and very popular with the among the Phoenix social set.  Halloran would visit Winnie Ruth and the other young women almost every night, often bringing other male friends and plenty of illegal booze.

On the evening of the murder, Winnie Ruth spent the night with the two young ladies. An argument broke out involving the relationship between the two young ladies as well as Winnie Ruth's introduction of another young lady to Jack Halloran.

During or after the argument, the two young women were shot to death. Winnie Ruth claims that they were killed in self defense during a struggle. The prosecution claimed the young women had been shot to death in their sleep.

Winnie Ruth Judd boarded the train for Los Angeles carrying a valise of body parts with her, and checked the luggage containing the rest of the bodies.  The Union Pacific Station where she boarded still stands at 401 W. Harrison.

Winnie Ruth returned to her apartment after the shooting.  Moments later, Jack Halloran's car pulled up in her driveway. He was intoxicated.  She was hysterical.  They returned to the young ladies' apartment where he took care of the bodies while she cleaned the place up.

The body of one of the young women fit easily into a trunk. A second trunk could not be closed with the other body in it. After the body was dismembered and the parts rearranged, the trunk closed nicely.

Winnie Ruth returned to work as a receptionist the next day. After work, Winnie Ruth repacked the second trunk, putting some of the parts in a valise to reduce its weight. She asked her landlord to take the trunks to the train depot, explaining that they contained books which were needed by her husband in Los Angeles.

Winnie Ruth made the 400 mile trip to Los Angeles on the Union Pacific train with the trunks in the baggage car and the valise of body parts at her side.

The Arizona Superior Court for Maricopa County at 125 W. Washington was completed in 1928.

The plan went awry when the baggage handler at Union Station in Los Angeles was overcome with nausea from the odor coming from the trunks. He also noticed a liquid oozing from the trunks which appeared to be blood. The station agent refused to release the trunks and requested a key. Winnie Ruth explained that she would have to get the key from her husband and disappeared.

Four days later the police found Winnie Ruth Judd sitting on a couch in a mortuary, precisely where Dr. Judd's attorney said she would be. A caravan of heavily armed lawmen escorted her back to Phoenix where twenty thousand people lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the murderess. The owner of the duplex where the murders occurred sold ten cent tickets to tour the murder site. The press descended on Phoenix.

Winnie Ruth Judd was tried for the murder of only one of the young women (the one not cut up). She was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. She was moved to the state prison in Florence to await execution. The Warden petitioned for a sanity hearing, and just 72 hours before the scheduled execution, Winnie Ruth was pronounced insane.

Winnie Ruth was transported to the State Hospital at 24th and Van Buren Streets where she became a model prisoner. In 1939 she wandered off the hospital grounds and was missing for six days. Six weeks later, she was missing again for twelve days. In 1947, she escaped for twelve hours, and in 1951, she was absent for thirteen hours.

The Arizona State hospital at where Winnie Ruth Judd spent 40 years of her life is located on the northeast corner of 24th and Van Buren Streets.  She escaped from the hospital five times.

In 1952, she left again and returned upon the promise of the administrator that she be permitted to appear before a grand jury. Her testimony regarding Halloran's involvement was so persuasive that the grand jury recommended that her death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment. The parole board and the governor agreed.

In 1962 she inserted her key in the front door of the State Hospital and walked away. She made her way to Northern California where she lived in a mansion as the maid and companion of a wealthy doctor and his wife. Six and one-half years later, she was again taken into custody.

Just before Christmas, 1971, Winnie Ruth Judd was released as a free woman after 40 years of confinement. She returned to Northern California.

In the 1990's she returned to Phoenix where she lived under the assumed name of Marian Lane. She died quietly in her sleep on Friday, October 23, 1998 at a friend's home. She was 93.

Books from amazon.com
The Trunk Murderess by Jana Bommersbach
Crimes & Misdeeds: Headlines from Arizona's Past by W. Lane Rogers
Women and the Death Penalty in the United States, 1900-1998 by Kathleen A. O'Shea
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